New bike lane in front of Union Station often clogged with idling cars waiting for valet parking

Posted at 12:11 AM, Jul 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-27 02:11:32-04

DENVER -- When a bike lane is filled with cars, what is it called?

It's not the start of a bad joke, it's a situation that reveals itself throughout the day in front of Union Station.

A Denver bike commuter recorded video of multiple cars idling in the bike lane as the drivers waited for valet at Union Station.

"As I approached, I realized it wasn't just one, but a strand of 10 cars," said Micah Gurard-Levin. "It appeared that the valet station was completely full, so instead of finding another place to go, the cars simply blocked the bike lane."

Gurard-Levin checks out a B-cycle to get to and from work every day. He often has to fight cars in the bike lane and the driving lane.

"When we suddenly have to swerve out of that bike lane, into traffic, with automobiles, cars aren't expecting it and cyclists don't know if there are cars coming up from behind them," said Gurard-Levin. "We've got a bike lane and we don't have bikes actually using the bike lane."

"I've already gotten into it with a couple of people today," said Pedicab cyclist Zach Burke. "It's like a parking spot, if it's not available, you should just keep driving around."

Before the University of Colorado A Line to DIA opened at Union Station, the city revamped Wynkoop Street between 16th and 18th Streets.

The meters in front of Union Station were taken out and replaced with a passenger loading and drop off lane. Between that lane and the driving lane is a newly painted green bike lane.

"I've had some Uber and Lyft drivers try to fight us over it," said Burke.

Denver7 watched as multiple drivers pulled up to the valet stand that sits near 17th Street and Wynkoop Street and left their cars running with the door open in the bike lane.

"Well, we don't park in the bike lane. We try to avoid parking in the bike lane as much as possible," said L.E.G. Valet owner Dante Dunlap.

And he's mostly right. It was the drivers coming to the valet stand that were idling, however some return valet vehicles were also in the bike lane.

"We parked 50,000 cars here last year. We're averaging between 2,300 and 2,700 cars a month," said Dunlap. "Our guys are running a block-and-a-half to two blocks into the parking garage as to retrieve customers' cars."

He also pointed blame at Uber and Lyft drivers, as well as four taxicab companies. We saw multiple taxis also idling in the bike lane.

"They need to have some sort of enforcement down here," said Dunlap. "The better everyone works together to solve the solutions as quickly as possible, the better off we all are."

On the opposite side of the street, Gurard-Levin also caught a Public Works meter reader slowly driving in the bike lane, checking the status of meters.

A Denver Public Works spokeswoman told Denver7 that they are allowed to access the public right-of-way to do their job.

"I understand he's just trying to do his job, but it certainly created an unsafe situation," said Gurard-Levin.

Denver Public Works said it plans to review the area in front of Union Station. Flip-flopping the loading zone with the bike lane could be safer for cyclists, but wouldn't necessarily work with the way the road narrows near the intersection of 17th Street and Wynkoop Street.